My daughter and I were nearing the end of our nightly walk and the sun was dipping low, the color of an orange Creamsicle. It flung its glow across the earth making the landscape appear soft and subdued, as if it were robed and ready to turn in. I looked over at my daughter’s face and that glow was resting on her, too. She looked prettier than I’d ever seen her look and I felt compelled to tell her what I saw. She responded,”Your face looks the same way.”
It made me think about the effects of a kiss from one you love. It warms and softens your heart and relaxes your face. An insult will do the opposite. A slap or a slight will knit your brows and rumple your mouth and make you feel angry and sad. The effects of sin are visible and far-reaching, not just disturbing our faces and bodies, but the face of the whole earth; war, violence, disease, selfishness, greed, theft, poverty, envy and jealousy, sexual promiscuity, adultery, divorce and the dissolution of the family, lies, gossip, quarrels and complaints, all contribute to the ugliness and downfall of our society. Turn on the news and you’ll see not even a hint of a glow, but shadows, darkness, and rot.
Is it any wonder that our beings are anxious, depressed, fearful, and full of rage and bitterness and our bodies are ravaged by all manner of dysfunction? Where is the hope in all this gloom? We who love Jesus know that we are not resigned to this fate. We say with Paul in Romans 7:24-25a, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Jesus said, “I am the light that has come into the world so that everyone who believes in me will not live in the dark.” (John 12:46) When we humble ourselves and submit to his lordship, when we root our beings in his love for us, when we recognize our neediness and him the source, when we come in our weakness to enter his rest and find healing and peace, when we allow him to correct and refine us, transforming our minds and remaking our hearts, this is when we glow. Taking a course will not make someone a contagious Christian. Only the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit can do this and only when we yield fully to him. The reason so few of us get asked about our faith is because we don’t look any different from those who don’t know the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What if, like Moses, our faces shone with the glory of God, the beauty and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, but, unlike Moses, we didn’t cover it up?
I love art and several years back a dear friend took me on a gallery walk. I enjoyed this casual stroll through the canvasses immensely. I didn’t expect to be arrested by some of them. None of it was anything I hadn’t seen before–color, earth and sky, lovers, friends, and solitary figures, a menagerie of creatures, but somehow these artists had been able to capture that glow. Regardless of who these creatives were or what they believed, I believe they are God’s children, made in his image, gifted by him to reflect his glory. Yes, that’s what I saw in those paintings that day, what I saw on the face of my daughter, a glimpse of his kingdom, a foreshadowing of the new Jerusalem where the God of heaven and earth will reside with us and the sun and moon will be discontinued because the light of Christ will burn forever. When I looked into the vast blanket of stars in the African sky, when I heard my baby laugh for the first time, when I felt the deep, sheltering embrace of my lover, any time I’ve ever laid eyes on the wonders of this world, the mountains, the ocean, the sunrises and sunsets, the trees and flowers, I’m given a small taste of the future, redeemed creation and I’m thirsty, hungry, starving for it. I want more.
I work at the hospital as a health care aide and in the morning after the care is done and our elderly charges are eating breakfast in the dining room, it’s my job to round the floor and make the beds. The air in those rooms is shrouded and stale and upon entering I go immediately to the blinds. I crank away and the sunlight streams through the window dispelling the darkness and dissipating the stuffiness, energizing my body for the duty before me. Some of my patients draw the blinds again as soon as they’re back in their rooms and leave them drawn. It creates a tomb-like effect, depressing and claustrophobic. Aging eyes no longer respond to light in the same way. They take longer to adjust to changes in light levels. Glaring light often requires sunglasses, even indoors.
It saddens me to know this is where my eyes are going. I’ve always had good vision and I love the sunshine. My daughter recently returned from Capernwray, a bible school on Thetis Island off the coast of Vancouver Island. When asked what she missed the most about back home, she stated, “Sunshine.” The Vancouver area is notoriously cloudy and rainy. We live in Alberta, one of the sunniest places in Canada. No matter what the temperature, and there are days in the winter where it’s biting cold, I can step out of my door into big, blue sky and sunshine. I struggle, as it is, not to look directly into the sun and understand that staring at it can cause various degrees of damage, the least of which is sunburn. Still, God daily dabbles with color up there, that gleaming fireball as his centerpiece, and I catch myself snatching glimpses and incurring guilt for my unhealthy habit. I want to look at it full on and I think that’s what God intended.
Someday, this earth will again represent God’s grand design, before humankind desecrated, polluted, damaged, messed and marked it up and we, his children, will view that splendor unguarded, astounded, and gaping, but not harmed by the sight in any way. On the day of Christ’s return, 1 John 3:2 tells us that “we will be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” We will see him in all his glory. No more visions and dreams, or looking at his back, no more fear that the very sight of him might turn us into maggot grub. The grimy film left on our eyes and souls will be lifted and the shackles of sin and the rags of perishable flesh will fall away. We will stand in his presence transformed, kissed by the Son, radiant and enraptured, ready to worship him for all eternity. As the old hymn says, “What a day, glorious day that will be.”
Top Photo Credit: Tim Willson
Complete the experience. Listen to Charlie Peacock’s In the Light.